Bicyclists, pedestrians invade each others’ space, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I have noticed over the last year that more people walk in the streets when there are sidewalks and bikes using sidewalks when there are bike lanes. I know that there are number of places where there are no sidewalks and people have to walk on the street but they need to stay as far to the right as possible. More and more, I encounter people running, walking and pushing baby strollers -- or running with one -- in the street, all where there are sidewalks. Same for bikes, I see more of them on the sidewalks then in the bike lanes, plus many of those bikes in the bike lanes are on the wrong side. It would seem that if it's illegal to jaywalk, then it's illegal to be walking and/or running in the street when there are sidewalks available. It is a dangerous situation. I recently came to an intersection on the Westside, where I stopped and then made a right hand turn only to find a person with a baby stroller coming at me. You would think people would protect their children better. If everyone just obeyed the rules for street, bike lane and sidewalk usage, it would make things some much more safe and people-friendly. Thanks, Stephen Hauskins, Santa Cruz A: Here, here! And with the added population, "conveyances out there and increased traffi on our streets, hihgway and sidewalks, we have rules of the road that should be followed," said Lt. John Hohmann of the Scotts Valley Police Department. "There is a time and place for everything." Runners must follow pedestrain laws, Hohmann said while prodiving the following reference points from the following California Vehicel Code sections:
  • 21954(a) -- "Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.
  • 21955 -- "Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk."
  • 21956(a) --¬†"No pedestrian may walk upon any roadway outside of a business or residence district otherwise than close to his or her left-hand edge of the roadway."
  • 21956(b) -- "A pedestrian may walk close to his or her right-hand edge of the roadway if a crosswalk or other means of safely crossing the roadway is not available or if existing traffic or other conditions would compromise the safety of a pedestrian attempting to cross the road."
In regard to bicycles, cyclists are required to follow the rules of the road that apply to motor vehicles:
  • 21200 -- "A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, as well as follow additional rules set for in the vehicle code that apply specifically to bicycles (equipment) and other related rules. There is no law prohibiting the use of a bicycle on a sidewalk unless it is prohibited by ordinance."
  • 21206 -- "This chapter does not prevent local authorities, by ordinance, from regulating the registration of bicycles and the parking and operation of bicycles on pedestrian or bicycle facilities, provided such regulation is not in conflict with the provisions of this code."
While Hohmann has heard arguments seeking to give cyclists the ability to ride on sidewalks and pedestrians on the street. "A bicyclist on the sidewalk loses some of their line of sight with motorists entering from side streets, he said. "Parents feel safer with their children on the sidewalk. I personally feel the safest position for a bicyclist is to ride the same direction as the cars -- as required by law -- and in the bicycle lane or as close as practical to the right hand edge of the roadway."
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